As Summer and the traditional season of grilling is fast approaching, I was thinking back to some of my favorites for this time of year. When trying to cook for three kids, who are already fussy eaters, patience isn’t a word that comes to mind very much. With the rising temperatures here in Texas, you don’t want to have something heavy but rather refreshing and light. So I thought that my Tequila Lime Chicken would be the perfect grilled dish to share this week.
With the addition of homemade Pico de Gallo and semi-made tortilla chips, Tequila Lime Chicken is a great light and healthy entrée to enjoy on a warm Summer night. While the name implies that it has alcohol, this is always an optional ingredient.
Prepping the Tequila Lime Chicken
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups of sweet & sour cocktail or margarita mix (if making gluten-free be sure to check the label, not all margarita mixes are GF. I’ve included a GF variety below.)
½ cup tequila (optional)
Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste
Start by cleaning any small bits of fat or connective tissue from the chicken. You won’t always find it depending on the brand but it never hurts to look over your food when preparing to cook. Once done, find the lateral midpoint (about halfway down the side of each breast) and cut through just enough to butterfly each piece. Make sure that you don’t completely slice through unless that’s your intent. Place them into a large bowl and cover with the margarita mix, just covering the chicken. You made need to adjust how much you use depending on the thickness of the chicken or size of the dish. If you choose, add the tequila here as well. This time around I used José Cuervo mix and Sauza Gold respectively. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (along with the Pico de Gallo). If you are planning on entertaining this can all be made the day ahead. We believe strongly in drawing out the flavor by marinating for long periods, 2 hours is the minimum.
Finishing the Tequila Lime Chicken
A couple of hours, or a day, have passed since you started on this journey and now it’s time to cook and plate.
With the chicken butterflied, it will cook quickly – that’s the general idea. You can do this on the grill outside or in the kitchen on a cast iron grill plate (which is the route I took, nothing beats good cast iron). You want your temperature at a high heat, around 425F/220C. This will allow a good sear on the outside of the chicken and make for a beautiful presentation. Remove the chicken from the marinade and brush with a coat of olive oil. I like to put a light dusting of garlic salt and fresh ground black pepper on at this point to balance the sweetness of the marinade. Place onto the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes each side. Again, this may vary a bit depending on the thickness of the meat.
You want to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165F/75C. Pull from the heat and allow to rest for approximately 5 minutes. Remember that even off the heat, your chicken is still cooking on the inside. This will also allow the juices to redistribute internally and make for a juicy bite every time.
When you plate the Tequila Lime Chicken, spoon a generous helping of the juice from the pan across the top and give a little squeeze of fresh lime. Pile on the Pico and serve with a side of semi-homemade tortilla chips and extra Pico de Gallo for dipping.
I served this up with a simple yellow rice. And yes, I cheated and used a package that I started before I headed to the grill. Sometimes, placating those impatient eaters wins out. Enjoy!
Tequila Lime Chicken
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3 cups of sweet & sour cocktail or margarita mix (non-alcoholic)
- 1/2 cup tequila (optional)
- Olive Oil
- Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste